Albert Tay’s Composition: Choral Equal Voices (SSAA)

你是我的家 You Are My Home (SA, Pno)

Commissioned by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education Filial Piety Teaching Resource Centre. Melody and arrangement by Albert TAY, text by 金曲獎Golden Melody Award winner, lyricist WANG Zhong Yan (王中言). Golden Melody Award winning producer 吳蒙惠 Vikung RULJADENG helped record and assisted with the production of the original music video.

Songs of Childhood: LonDali Bridge

Children were playing ‘catching’ on the rugby field, taunting one another, parroting each other’s speech in a bid to out-irritate each other, discipline master walks in and shows off his excellent projected voice and as the playing gets more intense, recess time is soon over with children scattering in different directions, with a silly day-dreaming boy who realizes (very late) that he is late for class… all these things were happening in the picturesque school where one can find a beautiful bridge that joins the Junior and Secondary School with its Junior College campus. On good weather days (and nights), the still waters become a beautiful mirror that paints the bridge and sky.
Sitting calmly in the midst of this ‘chaos’ was absolutely surreal… it was like living inside one of Dali’s paintings! I thought it would be interesting to capture the essence of this scene within the music.


I have the good fortune of conducting the Methodist Girls School (Secondary) choir, arguably one of the finest Singaporean school choirs with very high-achieving students. H.A.P.P.Y is a gift to the choir girls for being an inspiration to work with, a tribute to the joyful sessions we have and a token of thanks to the school for having faith and hiring this young musician when he was taking his baby steps in conducting.We have tons of fun playing music games, learning how to read music and singing everything ranging from Renaissance masters, crazy avant garde choral works to pop and jazz. As part of our training programme, we have intensive, annual “choir boot camps” where they learn via masterclass formats, various interest topics.

排排坐 (Sitting in a Row) (SA/TB/SATB, Pno)

Traditionally, ‘authentic’ folk rhymes and music, sees many variants as a result of oral tradition being passed on and distilled through time. The Cantonese and Chinese text used here seem to indicate that this is a uniquely Singaporean version. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Cantonese rhyme is far older – some of the members in my senior’s choir thanked me for evoking their childhood memories of their grandmothers teaching them this rhyme. I thought it was really interesting, the parallels between the Cantonese rhyme vis-a-vis the Mandarin rhyme that I grew up with. This work is commissioned by Ms. Lynn Wong as a theme song/jingle for her Ho Yeah Festival, an event promoting Cantonese and Hakka culture.

Songs of Childhood: Clay Doll 泥娃娃

“Clay Doll” is a lullaby that my beloved, late grandmother used to sing to me as a young child. On hindsight, it

does seem rather unusual that a children’s song would sound (to my ears) so melancholic.

This was the last piece written under the tutelage of composer doyen and mentor, the late Mr. Leong Yoon Pin, and was dedicated to him as a gift at our last lesson for being an inspirational example to us all, not only as a composer, conductor and teacher but more importantly, as a man of humility, who feels passionately and deeply in all that he sees, hears and does. Amongst the many varied works I have shown him during lessons, Leong seemed the most pleased with this one – perhaps it was due to the economy of means, disciplined counterpoint and a respectful return to simplicity that was so characteristic of the master himself. The latest revision sees the addition of an optional piano accompaniment, written in the same spirit to make the work more accessible to more choirs.

Songs of Childhood: Trishaw

Many grew up singing and thinking of 三轮车 (Trishaw) as a uniquely Singaporean children’s song. As it turns out, the composer of this fine piece is a Taiwanese primary school teacher by the name of 陈石松 (Chén Shí Sōng).

Origins aside, the song nevertheless resonates with Singaporeans, with this arrangement alluding to Singaporean trishaw bells/horns and a famous Singaporean drama serial titled 早安老师 (Good Morning Teacher) as a tribute to both the Taiwanese composer and (music) teachers alike. 

The Singapore Teachers‘ Academy for the aRts (STAR) Teachers’ Choir premiered the work on 17 July 2013 at the Asia Pacific Symposium of Music Education Research – Arts Education Conference (APSMER-AEC) conducted by Abdul Hakim.

Ave Dulcissima Maria

Written as a companion piece to the Ave Maria (TTBB), this work was prompted by a prominent conductor’s request for a treble choir piece with ‘long lines and lush harmonies’.  Like the poetry it is set to, the music is a direct reflection of the text’s simplicity and economical beauty.

As a result of reviewing Ave Maria whilst writing this piece, it brought back some of my fondest memories and things learnt whilst studying composition with Dr. Kelly Tang. This piece is dedicated to the wonderful teacher who through his kindness and generosity since 2007, has helped this young artist live through a particularly difficult phase in life. Thank you Dr. Tang!

Laudate Dominum (SSA)

Taken from Psalm 116 (117), this work is specially written for the Methodist Girls School (Secondary) Choir. The ecstatic, euphoric joy in this piece is inspired by the coming of my first child. The SSA version of this work was premiered on 18 July 2010 at the Singapore Conference Hall by the MGS Choir. It was first performed overseas by Musica Nostra conducted by Professor Zsuzsánna Mindszenty in Budapest, Hungary on 14 December 2013. Notably, Laudate Dominum was featured at the 2015 Europa Cantat and has since been performed by numerous award-winning choirs from around the world in various festivals or competitions. It is also possible to add percussion instruments such as djembe, finger cymbals and/or piano improvisation to this piece if a fuller sound is desired. Laudate Dominum is available in SATB, SSA and SAB.
Written at a time when I was studying with Leong Yoon Pin, the work is informed by organum, Bach-ian counterpoint, Indian ragas and a dash of Guns & Roses!

Ecce Crucem Domini

The text, with its hint of exorcism and evocative symbolisms captured my imagination from the very first reading. Orchestration, number of voices to choice of meter and repetitions etc., are replete with Augenmusik (music for the eyes) and references to numerology, with particular emphasis on the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 13. Apart from Augenmusik and numerology that alludes to Christian ideology and stories, spatial distribution of performers, thematic transfiguration and Madrigalism are also key components in the conceptualization of this piece.

夜来香 Tuberoses (SA, Pno)

Having grandparents and my family butler as primary caretakers during my growing up years, 夜来香 Yè Lǎi Xiāng (Tuberoses) was a song I often heard on Rediffusion radio during my back in the day. When the Tanglin Club Choir requested for a new Chinese song that suits fellow members of the club, this was the first piece that came to mind. This flex-choir arrangement is specially tailored for seniors.

Like any song that has achieved “folksong status”, some variations of the text or melody is avoidable e.g. The 凄怆 Qi Chuang vs 清唱 Qing Chang, Xi Chang. It seemed commonplace for artists of yesteryears to on occasion, make slight changes to the lyrics to something with a more positive connotations instead of sticking to the original post-war version. This was the first of a series of choral works designed for seniors in mind.

Psalm 90 (SSA, Strings or SSA, Pno)

Commissioned and premiered by the Methodist Girls School (Secondary) Strings and Choir, the first performance was held on 9 April 2016 (Sat) at the Kwa Geok Choo Auditorium Singapore, under the baton of talented conductor Mr. Edward Tan.

The highly cheerful and accessible work has assimilated various elements of popular music, the mood reflective of the school culture, specially crafted for the benefit of church-going audiences and teenagers in the high school string ensemble and choir. The work seeks to balance high artistry and musical challenge whilst maintaining playability. Spatial distribution is factored into this composition and it is highly recommended that the violin and cello solos are placed apart and the choir to stand in their corresponding voice sections, surrounding the audience (if hall acoustics allow).

It is hoped that this work will find favour with God and (Wo)Men alike.

Songs of Childhood: Old MacDonald

Conceived to be theatrical & to ‘break down the fourth wall’ between performers and audience, the piece requires the conductor and/or choristers to get suggestions from the audience what animal to insert into the song (see bar 3). The choristers will have to actively respond to the stimuli provided by the audience and insert the appropriate animal noise. The conductor may repeat to the choir the suggested animal before starting to sing for a more secured performance, clarifying which animal and allowing time for matching of animal sounds. A list of suggestions is provided below.

The song ends and goes to the coda when an animal with no commonly known sound is suggested either by choir members or by the audience e.g. rabbits, fish, giraffe. It is suggested that the total duration of this song (inclusive of polling of audience) to be under 3 minutes to avoid fraying the nerves from too many a repetition of the refrain. If audience is extremely intelligent and animals with no commonly known sounds is suggested after several repetitions, conductor can pretend to ‘hear’ such a suggestion, repeat to the choir and end the piece.

Songs of Childhood: Mary Had a Little Lamb

Updates coming soon.

Dona Nobis Pacem

This work was inspired by Sister Karol’s request for a treble choir piece that was in the ‘same style’ as the mixed choir version of Dona Nobis Pacem. Solo may be attempted by vocalist, children’s choir, small group of sopranos or played on an instrument, e.g. clarinet, flute, violin. N.B. Slurs in solo part are not phrasing/bowing marks for instrumentalists!
Second alto line is optional.

Songs of Childhood: Three Blind Mice

One of the first songs I learnt as a child was “Three Blind Mice”. I no longer remember where I learnt it or who taught it to me but the funny and visual lyrics of this children’s song left an indelible impression. It is therefore a natural choice to revisit this song in “Songs of Childhood”.

Theatrical elements are included in this piece to enhance this whimsical story.

The conductor is free to decide what is dramaturgically most effective, be it to use the entire choir in these theatrical displays or employ a few choristers who have more outgoing personalities. Props like toy carving knives or even samurai swords can be very effective and fun for young (or young-at-heart) choirs.

Singapore Songs: Singapore Town

Updates coming soon.

Chinese New Year Songs: Return of Spring 大地回春

Updates coming soon.